It’s hard to argue with the point of view advanced by Randall Stross in a New York Times piece this weekend — namely, that Apple could be doing a better job of capitalizing on the stumbles of Microsoft Vista. For every guy like billionaire Mark Cuban who switches to a Mac, there are about 95 people buying machines with Vista on them, and that statistic hasn’t changed all that much despite the so-called “halo effect” generated by the iPod.
So why hasn’t Apple done a better job of converting people into Mac owners? Because Steve Jobs doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the PC market, that’s why. I admit that I have no evidence whatsoever for making such a statement — other than the obvious, which is the fact that the company doesn’t even have anyone on the board dedicated to the Mac, as Stross details in his story. It seems fairly clear that it isn’t as important as the iPod business, and that Apple may not even care about winning more of the corporate market, which is what it would take.
Still, I can’t help but have the feeling that Steve-O’s sights are set a little higher than chewing another percent or two out of Bill’s overwhelming market share in PCs. I think the iPod got Apple started down the personal electronics and entertainment road, followed by the somewhat lacklustre AppleTV, and now the iPhone and the iPod Touch have moved the company into mobile.
Wayne Gretzky wasn’t the best hockey player because he handled the puck all that much better than everyone else (although he did). It was because he didn’t just skate to where the puck was, he skated to where it was going to be. I think Steve is trying to do the same thing.
I had almost forgotten about the rumours from six months or so ago that media and entertainment giant Viacom had bought a stake in Tagworld, a MySpace-style social network that I tried a few times and quite liked, but which never really seemed to get much traction, despite being well-desgined. Now it appears the rumours were true: Viacom has used the company’s technology to build micro-networks for its various brands.
According to the description on TechCrunch and in a Fortune magazine piece written by my old pal Richard Siklos, Viacom is not trying to create a simple MySpace knockoff — which I give them credit for. What they are trying to do, however, sounds much more difficult in a way: they are creating micro-hubs for artists, shows and channels (such as MTV and The Comedy Channel), and then allowing users of one network to move content and profiles and other data in between the different sub-networks.
The project is called Flux, and it apparently includes not just Viacom properties and portals but also other non-Viacom sites such as the website for the band The Pussycat Dolls and a skateboarding site called Sk8site.com. As Richard notes, users of an MTV site can even copy and paste videos or other content from their MTV pages to a MySpace page.
In effect, Viacom is doing the opposite of what MySpace has done, and is trying to tie together existing networks rather than creating its own. “We’re not trying to own a social network, build one, or compete with one,” says MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath. “We’re embracing them all.” PaidContent, meanwhile, says the Flux project is old news, and that Viacom is just cobbling together old projects and trying to make them seem like a coherent strategy.